Why Aren’t We More Energy Efficient?

So carbon emission rates have been high, and that makes sense due to the fuels we use to supply energy to the people.  There has been a cry to use sustainable, renewable energy to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide people release into the atmosphere and protect the environment.  So far, people have come up with many options, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, and wind energy, but why aren’t we more energy efficient?

It’s not that people don’t want to protect their environment.  People have generally accepted that it is important for them to take care of the Earth so that their children will still have a place to live and the Earth won’t be completely miserable.  However, most people haven’t really been doing much to help things themselves.  Instead, they go tell someone else to do it.

One of the many reasons for this is because energy efficiency isn’t pretty.  Kate Plourd, Senior Account Executive of Solomon McCown & Company, states that “energy efficiency has a messaging problem and- plain and simple-the energy efficiency industry has to market an un-sexy product that doesn’t thrill most Americans.”  The term “energy efficiency” is an unattractive word in itself.  Some forms of sustainable energy aren’t pretty either.  Wind turbines aren’t a pretty sight.  “Supporters of energy efficiency will make more of an impact if serious efforts are made to educate and excite individuals on energy efficiency and how making their homes smarter about how they use energy is the right and smart thing to do.”

The next question is of convenience.  How convenient is it for people to switch over to another energy source?  People drive cars.  The “findings of SIM Air’s 20 cities study that shows that in Delhi [India], cars emit as much as 56% of the CO2 from vehicles” (India Shies Away From Setting Fuel Economy Standards).  The Indian market is currently dominated by small cars, but there is a shift heading towards mid-sized and large cars.  Obviously, this means that more gas will be needed to power these cars and there will be a higher rate of carbon dioxide emission.  In a review by the International Council on Clean Transportation, a “10% increase in large vehicle sales results in a 2% deterioration in fleet fuel economy” (India Shies Away From Setting Fuel Economy Standards).  Nevertheless, if you have a large family, will it be convenient for you to get a smaller car?  No.  Is it worth it to get an electric or hybrid car?  In the long run, it would be.  But some families cannot afford the price in the short run.

So enough about people; why aren’t governments trying to make their countries more energy efficient?  Many countries just look out for themselves.  Sometimes, it’s cheaper to work overseas and other countries have lenient environmental laws.  Other times, it could be that a certain not-eco-friendly method has been successful for other countries for decades, so why go for something new?  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  In a case of US vs. India, India is trying to use solar panels, but the “US charges that India’s National Solar Mission is discriminating against foreign solar companies.”  Meanwhile, India says that the US is subsidizing solar panels to India, in turn making Indian solar manufacturing companies uncompetitive.  If turning to solar power will hurt the Indian economy, India will be opposed to sustainable energy.

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1 Response to Why Aren’t We More Energy Efficient?

  1. rfperlman says:

    While “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a nice philosophy I would also throw in “If you use it try not to break it”

    This US vs. India battle sounds like it is fully motivated by money.

    It is kind of sad if we need to attract people to be concerned for their basic necessities by wrapping it in something that looks pretty and sounds sexy and makes for a good thrill. But ultimately it seems to all connect to what we spoke of in class before in relation to India and clean water. People are more concerned about immediate needs than anything else. But when push comes to shove we see some serious action when one has no other choice. The sad part is that it does not have to get to the point of having no other choice. And if all of this is for money, in the long run, investing now is cheaper. Nobody wants to invest now because there is no immediate return. And perhaps the real issue has to do with the way we think. We seem to think that if we have more money we will be happy.

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